Jubitz Truck Service Center
Cost Considerations to Finding the Best Electronic Logging Device (ELD)
June 17, 2021
As a fleet manager or owner-operator, we know you want to maximize your resources while also finding tools that are reliable and increase productivity. It’s no wonder you want the best electronic logging device (ELD) — it’s something you use every day. Whether you’re new to the industry and just getting set up with the mandatory equipment you need to run your fleet or you’re looking to switch ELDs, you’ve found the right resource! There are hundreds of devices available at a variety of price points. Some systems even include features beyond the legally required data, but will they benefit you? In this series, we identify major considerations you need to address before choosing the best ELD for your organization. First up, costs! Understanding how much the ELD will cost and what’s included in that price.
Initial and Ongoing Costs
No matter what kind of business you run or are part of, cost will influence your ELD purchase. Like any other major purchase, you want to make sure the investment you’re making addresses your current and future needs. Companies both sell and lease ELD devices and typically bundle them with the ELD software. Some companies require a contract while others do not. The most straightforward cost structure for an ELD purchase is to buy the hardware and software for a single, upfront fee. You have no ongoing costs to worry about, but the initial and only payment may seem pricey.
Other ELDs are available purchased outright with an additional monthly fee to access the software. Still other ELD systems may be leased with a monthly fee on the unit with a separate monthly fee for the software. The terms of these arrangement will vary by company and you may or may not need a contract for the ongoing use of the software. Always closely examine a contract because once you sign, you are financially obligated to pay for the services for the duration of the terms. Whether or not you are in a contract, you should understand what your fees cover.
Paying monthly service fees will continue to impact accounting. With some ELDs, you’re paying for a certain set of features that you can upgrade to in the future. You have the option to increase your access to additional services and features like fleet management tools. This can help if you are a smaller fleet with plans to expand and will want or need premium features from your ELD system. Using a system that can grow with you allows you to avoid switching systems later. Monthly fees may also cover service and repairs for the device.
Service and Repairs
Some ELD companies will include service and repairs for the device in your monthly fees. This can help you avoid getting billed extra for those services in the event you require them. If you need ELD installation, this may be covered at no added cost when you take your device into an approved service center location. It’s not worth choosing the cheapest ELD if it doesn’t offer the necessary support to back it. Additionally, a low initial cost doesn’t mean you won’t end up paying more in the long run. Some of the more expensive devices available have no additional costs associated, so instead of recurring, monthly fees, it’s a one and done payment with a lifetime of support and functionality.
Operating Leased Vehicles
If you operate rented or leased vehicles, it’s still up to you, the carrier, to follow the ELD rule as these vehicles won’t necessarily have an ELD installed. J. J. Keller Encompass helps break down what you can do in this case: “A carrier can… [either] install one of its ELDs in the vehicle, or, use a ELD already installed in the vehicle by the equipment provider.” This is one of the primary benefits to owning a plug and play ELD. The only concern is that some ELD installation might require a technician. ELD installation can get complicated. Some ELDs are installed in 6-pin and 9-pin ports and others are installed to the OBDII ports. Depending on the vehicle, this wiring can require expertise. Again, this is another reason why you should know what your ELD system, its fees, and/or contract include.
Did you know the Jubitz Truck Service Center has skilled technicians that can install ELDs? The JTSC is the largest ELD service center for OmniTracs but also carries other ELD makes and models. In our five part Finding the Best Electronic Logging Device (ELD) series, we dive into the many decisions a fleet manager or owner-operator will have to make when making their purchase. Stay tuned for the next consideration: support.